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the fitness and financial reviews required to operate that airline; that we were obviously concerned about safety as number one, but we were also concerned about getting him in the air.
And I was disappointed to hear that that broke off. I am still hopefully optimistic, through no special knowledge, that that still may not be the final answer. If Eastern Airlines is no longer a viable competitor, all of the American traveling public will lose.
We have a task force that I appointed shortly after I became Secretary, that is looking at all aspects of competition, including several issues that are of concern, that your office has indicated have interest to you. They have a preliminary draft that they are beginning to form for me as to what actions we can take at the Department of Transportation and the FAA to ensure competition.
I am pledged to do what I can to ensure, grow competition. I would be delighted if somebody else would come in like, I might add, somebody like your friends, people, your constituents in Arizona, America West. I would like to see a company like America West, who had indicated an interest in Eastern earlier. I would hope that they would come in and do get interested in this.
The more players we have on the field, the more competition we are going to have. And the Department of Transportation is going to analyze our options and then we are going to, if proper, take whatever options are necessary to ensure competition.
And I think that may be a slight departure from my predecessor. But without criticizing their decisions at all, the situation is different today than it was six years ago.
Senator Mccain. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And Mr. Secretary, we appreciate your candor and your cooperation with this committee. We think we have got a very good relationship and I am sure it will continue.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Ford. Senator Exon.
Senator Exon. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
Mr. Secretary, you have received a lot of accolades. I will not take time except to say I agree with most of them, and thanks not only for your attention to these major matters, but also with regard to the considerable assistance that you have given as the new Secretary regarding to more mundane matters, such as essential air service and Amtrak and others, that we were stonewalled on in the past. I think you were very wise in doing that.
Secretary Skinner. Senator Exon, could I just comment on that issue, because this gives me an opportunity. I made a commitment to the committee to work with a number of members of the Senate and the House on that problem. That problem is coming to a head pretty soon here.
As I indicated, we deferred the decision on cutting back the program because the appropriation was $6 million short. So anything anybody who is interested in essential air service can do to help on that problem should be done now. I think we are running out of time. And unfortunately, if we do not get some resolution soon, I am going to be up here telling this committee that I am going to have to eliminate the entire program because there is no funding left.
So that problem, we are trying to work with the appropriations committees, but you and I have had that discussion. It is still a very, very significant issue which we all need to worry about.
Senator Exon. Oh, you did not make a commitment that you have been widely quoted as making, with regard to the fact that you will see that the essential air service program is funded without any interruption whatsoever for the rest of this fiscal year?
Secretary Skinner. No, the commitment I made is I would work with the House and Senate to get the necessary reprogramming of funds. But there is nothing I can do under the law to solve that problem.
And everybody, Senator Byrd and Congressmen Whitten understand that, that if we are going to solve that problem we either have to have a reprogramming or an additional appropriation. And I have worked with those committees in finding the necessary reprogramming money. It is now up to the House and Senate to do that reprogramming. I cannot do it on my own under the law.
Senator Exon. Thank you.
Senator Ford. Let me interrupt my good friend.
It is my understanding—correct me, Mr. Secretary—that the House has started its markup on the supplemental and there is no money in the supplemental for essential air service?
Secretary Skinner. That is correct.
Senator Ford. So it would be up to us.
Secretary Skinner. Right, unless the full committee adds it. But right now essential air service was not dealt with in the transportation supplemental that went through the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.
Senator Exon. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. You cleared up something. You have been evidently misquoted or misunderstood by sources other than this Senator, with regard to that. I am glad you cleared it up.
What I started to say also is that thank you for your Amtrak understanding. You are at least trying to go along with us on these things and you have signaled an indication of cooperation, and we appreciate that.
Let me move on to the subject at hand. I want to ask about these new devices that I understand at the present time cost about $800,000 each, called a TNA or a thermal neutron analysis devices.
And you can only make, as I understand your testimony this morning, about 100 of those in a year's time. That sounds like a very slow process to me, given the threat. Is this a device that is protected by patent rights?
Secretary Skinner. No, it can be licensed. The FAA has put a lot of the research in. It has the access to the licensing.
The problem is production. These are big machines. They require a product to do the analysis. Besides just metal and conveyor belts and equipment, they require certain product, chemical products. And their availability is staggered over a two year period.
There are a lot of things that can be done while we are waiting for the full deployment of TNA equipment, many of the suggestions that we have made already, and we are in the process of developing some. Security will not stand still while we are waiting for implementation of TNA. It is just one of many answers to this problem.
But right now the product that is required is the thing that probably slows up the production cycle to 200 in two years.
Senator Exon. But TNA is the latest state of the art, the best we have knowledge of as of now, is that correct?
Secretary Skinner. That is correct. I visited the FAA lab in New Jersey with Senator Lautenberg and I think he and I reached the conclusion that there are other things we are looking at, but right now that is state of the art technology.
Senator Exon. And you believe that, regardless of whether or not we put additional resources in, that 100 of those is the most that we could expect in the next year?
Secretary Skinner. I might ask Mr. Salazar to amplify on my answer.
Mr. Salazar. Well, only, sir, that the technology thermal neutron analysis is designed for the inspection of baggage and cargo. Senator Exon. Yes.
Mr. Salazar. We have other technologies that are advancing as well and we have great expectations for the detection of explosives on people and in carry-on baggage as well. That is the vapor detection technology, sir.
Secretary Skinner. But TNA for baggage and cargo is the state of the art. And once we get moving, once there is an indication that we are going to move into a full production and that there is a multi-million dollar market out there, we believe there will be additional interest from additional manufacturers, and we will move quickly to the next generation state of the art.
Senator Exon. Let me move on then to another subject matter. I recognize, since I work in sensitive areas all the time, you cannot say any more probably than what you have. I took it, though, from your answers, and given some of the information that myself and others have received, that we indeed know who at least some of the people were who were directly responsible for the disaster on Flight 103.
Is it safe to assume that your trip, six nations in six days in the immediate future, that a formal announcement in more detail on this subject could be anticipated in conjunction with your visit to Europe?
Secretary Skinner. No. The purpose of my trip is not to check on the progress of the investigation of the Pan Am 103 terrorists, but to begin and follow up on my discussions at the ICAO conference on the implementation of additional security measures.
One is to detect who did it; the other is to detect and deter future terrorists. My effort will be to detect and deter future terrorists, not to detect those that committed this act. That is not in my responsibility. That is primarily the FBI, and Scotland Yard working with them.
Senator Exon. Certainly, though, the FBI and Scotland Yard working with them must advise you to some extent. But you cannot tell us today anything more than you have about when we could get out this critically important information that I referred to earlier it would do as much as anything else to convince the traveling public that we are more on top of this situation, as they would like to see?
Secretary Skinner. Let me say that, no, I cannot give you such information. But I can tell you that, to the degree intelligence information is gathered during their criminal investigation of the crime, that information is being shared with the intelligence community, so that we can use anything we learn there to deter it in the future.
And let me also tell you that the President and General Scowcroft are personally committed to make sure that every investigative agency of the government, including the FBI, cooperates fully with everyone else on this issue.
Senator Exon. I realize this question puts you on the spot a little bit, but you are a man that does not seem to mind being put on the spot.
Recognizing that hindsight is perfect 20/20 vision, with regard to the Pan Am 103 crash, would you give me your judgment today, given what you know now, on whether or not a general warning to the public should have been instituted at that time, given the fact that at least State Department personnel and the FAA did seem to have alerted the airlines to the threat and the same type of explosive device that was used?
Secretary Skinner. Let me see if I can answer that. I do not mind answering that question to the degree I can.
First of all, from everything I have seen there was no specific information that led one, could lead anyone to the conclusion that Pan Am 103 specifically was going to be the target of an attack.
Number two, the information that we have seen talked about in the newspaper concerning a threat to a possible Pan Am flight has been discounted as non-credible by a very thoughtful process.
The information that has been gathered and discussed in the newspaper concerning devices similar to those that may have been used in the Pan Am 103 was disseminated to the industry in quite a bit of detail. More detail was available that was not disseminated, but a great deal of detail was disseminated. And that information and those devices were never directed towards any particular flight.
The posting in the Moscow embassy by the State Department official was in violation of State Department and Federal regulations. These regulations have been re-promulgated, if that is the right word, and there is one standard, and that standard is if it is significant enough to advise government employees regarding travel, we advise the American people.
But all of that does not make a whole lot of sense when you look at it in a big picture. It looks like we had all kind of information that directed threats towards 103 and Pan Am and flights to the States that were credible. And that does not appear to be the case.
Senator Exon. One followup and related question, and I may have some questions for the record. Would Flight 103 have been cancelled under the criteria that you and the Department have since developed, that you describe the flight should be cancelled "when a specific and credible threat to civil aviation which cannot be countered appears."
Secretary Skinner. I do not believe that—the answer to this question is no, that the level of information and the credibility of the information that has been so widely discussed in the newspaper was not of a sufficient nature to warrant the cancelling of 103.
Now, I know, because I have met with them on several occasions and I think I relate to them and their concerns, I know that is very difficult for the families of 103 to understand. And I am not covering up anything. You understand perfectly, that is my candid, honest assessment of the level of information we had and what would have been done under any reasonable scenario with that level of information.
But I understand that there are a lot of people who do not share that view, and I respect their view. I hope they will respect mine.
Senator Exon. Mr. Secretary, we are not always going to agree, but at least I like the straightforward, answers that you give to questions, and at least we appreciate it very much and thank you for that. Thank you.
And thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Ford. Mr. Secretary, I will have several questions to you in writing and ask if you would respond in a timely manner. And two of those questions will pertain to the security access door rule and the leadership of this committee as it wrote the former Secretary and got stonewalled. And it is such a fresh breeze going through here that it is almost sweeping us off our feet.
Secretary Skinner. I hope the honeymoon continues for 4 years,
Senator Ford. I do not know whether we could stand it.
Senator Ford. Thank you for bringing both of your associates with you. You did very well this morning. We thank you.
The next witness this morning is Ambassador Clayton E. McManaway, Jr., Associate Coordinator for Counterterrorism from the Department of State. Ambassador.
STATEMENT OF HON. CLAYTON E. McMANAWAY, JR., ASSOCIATE COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, ACCOMPANIED BY MICHAEL M. MAHONEY, DIRECTOR, CITIZENS EMERGENCY CENTER, CONSULAR AFFAIRS BUREAU
Ambassador Mcmanaway. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Ford. Will you identify the gentleman that is accompanying you to the witness table, please, sir.
Ambassador Mcmanaway. Yes, sir. My colleague is Mr. Michael Mahoney from the Consular Affairs Bureau of the Department of State.
Mr. Chairman, I have a full statement
Senator Ford. If you will wait just a minute. It never fails with either one Administration or the other. More people leave with the Secretary than came for the hearing.
Senator Ford. Now, Mr. McManaway.